tired of it all

old Rip had the cab
bring his final case
of cold tall buds &
while he drank 16 of
them he got out all
his old stuff for
one last look:
his army pictures
pictures of his son
who died the
year before
his discharge papers
his insurance forms
it was all lying there
on the Formica top
of the kitchen table
& when old rip had
his fill of the beer
& the past he went
down the hall of
his little mobile home
to the bedroom in back
took the old 12 gauge
shotgun he'd inherited
when his mother died
climbed up on the
water bed & bent
over the barrel
and pulled the trigger

but in death as in life
old Rip couldn't do
what he wanted the
way he wanted for
when he bent to pull
the trigger he slipped
& fell to the right
so the barrel didn't
explode in the middle
of his chest as he
intended but instead
blew off his whole
left side

the trail of blood &
the bloody handprints
on the curtains told the
tale of old rip's anguish
as his life's blood
drained out as he crawled
about the small room
his guts hanging out the
hole in his side
no doubt in agony
until finally he pulled
a quilt off the bed
wrapped it around him
in an effort to hold
his insides in
sat back against a wall
and died wrapped in
that encrusted quilt
that his mother had made
years before & she had
only died the
year before
a peaceful death in bed
for a woman 93 years old
not the gruesome way
old Rip chose to exit
the sad world he
couldn't deal with

his cousin found him
propped against the wall
pale & drained so badly
the coroner couldn't
get a sample for a
blood alcohol test
three days later in
the small room i
gagged at the smell of
decaying blood & saw
with horror the bits
of flesh and guts
hanging amidst the
pellet pattern on
one corner of the
ceiling & remembered
the last time old
uncle rip & I had
gone to Paris to
get booze & i was
broke at the time
& how he bought
himself a sack of
ten fifths of
Canadian Club &
bought me four fifths
of Jim Beam & how
he cracked the seal
on a jug before we
got out of town
& began hitting it
like a shark in a
feeding frenzy &
downed two thirds of
it before we drove
the 16 miles home
& how he ran into
the door facing trying
to get in the house

and I remembered how
he introduced me to the
woman I'd marry & I was
broke & couldn't take her
out & he pulled out a roll
& shoved some hundreds in
my hand
said I can't enjoy my
money hell go have a good
time & when you need
more let me know

at the funeral home
before they hauled the
body off his girlfriend
came to me with his
watch & diamond ring &
said he wanted you to
have these
she'd bought them for
him & i could tell she'd
rather have kept them
herself but i took them
anyway because she
was my mother-in-law at
the time & i figured
what the hell
she had plenty of bucks

I don't wear the ring
but every time I look at
that Seiko I think of
old rip & how he
solved his problems
& about how I didn't
go see him the last
time I was down from
St. Louie because I'd
been told he planned
to give me a bunch of
money & I didn't want
to take it or risk
offending him by not

but since I've wished
i had done one
or the other

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